Productivity Tip

Today, as I was playing with ideas after a big chunk of work, one interesting thought came, and it’s worth sharing. Everybody likes when the job is simple, straightforward and easy to do. Sometimes though times come when an assignment is … well, different.

I like to shoot these tasks first and, speaking in the context of PROgramming, like to make everything possible to never get back. If it implies writing a hundred of tests, that’s fine, just never again… you hear me? It’s not that I hate what I do, it’s that I, as a living being, hate stress.

Usually, I took the rest of the day off right after dealing with a complex or mundane to refresh the mind. It worked well, but took a lot of time and had a bitter taste of excuse to skip working hours. Today I invented something different for myself.

Here the summary of points that I (and hope you) usually keep in mind when working:

  • Focus on the task
  • Stop watching the clock
  • Keep a clear plan of attack with very small sub-tasks to cross them out as quickly as possible
  • Do whatever it takes to protect yourself from getting back (comprehensive tests suite, clear design etc)
  • Make a lot of comments to give you a hand if you still need to change something later

And now something new:

  • When the task is over, check in the sources, run all tests, and finish anything else that attaches you to the task, and then
  • Take a coffee break and detach yourself from it and the results as if somebody else did the job and you are left with an easy part (calling the module, using freshly designed database etc)
  • Start (not continue) working refreshed and, possibly, give you some easy and fun tasks to get the happy feeling of great job you always did

These are all simple steps, but I know no one who would follow them. I read many standard advices, like 50 minutes of work / 10 minutes of rest that are far from a silver bullet. They sound like a quick and dirty rule for those (or by those) who don’t really want to think WHY these breaks are important and, what’s more important, what to do during them.

With this last summary I feel I got closer to a better understanding of my own brain and how it works. Now I know how to reset that anxiety and stress to continue moving on without passively waiting for the same effect first.

Hope I induced some fresh ideas and insights. Feel free to share back.